Mark Norris

Haslam unveils effort to expand access to rural broadband

Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday proposed legislation seeking to expand access to broadband in rural Tennessee.

The governor's plan would change state law to allow nonprofit electric cooperatives, which serve about 2.5 million Tennesseans, to offer broadband service to their customers. It would also offer $45 million in grants and tax credits to commercial providers to expand their broadband offerings to areas where they are not yet available.

The proposal would not allow government-owned utilities such as Chattanooga's Electric Power Board to expand internet access outside their service areas, however, a longtime point of contention.

Haslam said he would rather have...